A Blessing To All: Exhibit Examines Pope’s Dedication To All Religions
By: Jennifer Zarro, For The Bulletin

Philadelphia – The Kimmel Center is hosting a new exhibition about the life of Pope John Paul II and his relationship with people of the Jewish faith.
A couple entering the exhibit last Friday, a day after its public opening, wanted to learn more about Vatican II’s policies toward Jewish people.
But what they found is a much more detailed personal story: A story about a boy who lived, played and went to school with Jewish boys and girls and who, through these early personal connections, formed a lifelong affinity with Jews. This affinity came to fruition once the boy became Pope John Paul II – and the first pope to attempt to repair over 2,000 years of painful history between Catholicism and Judaism.
The free exhibition consists of multimedia, interactive displays, including photographs, wall texts, videos, historical documents and artifacts. Visitors move chronologically through five sections, beginning with boyhood photos of the future pope, Karol Wojtyla, his family, and the Jewish population of his hometown Wadowice, Poland. Here we are introduced to his childhood friends, including his Jewish friend, Jerzy Kluger, who survived the Holocaust and went on to assist Pope John Paul II’s recognition of and outreach to the state of Israel. As Pope, John Paul II granted his first audience to Mr. Kluger and his family. The exhibit makes clear the strong Jewish presence in Wadowice, despite much anti-Semitic activity, and makes it possible to imagine Jewish life in this small town.